Fair Use Law Demystified

“Fair use is a basic principle of copyright law that says the general public may use certain portions of a copyrighted work without a license from the copyright owner, provided the use is for purposes such as commentary, criticism, search engines, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving or scholarship.” Read the full article at SiteProNews.

So when are you crossing the line when it comes to using someone else’s content based on the Fair Use Law?

  1. Are you using this for a not for profit site that is mainly educational or research oriented? If yes, then you may be okay. If you are a commercial business using content under the Fair Use Law you are most likely actually infringing on the copyright and not eligible to claim Fair Use.
  2. If you have taken the full piece without attribution and link you are overstepping and ending up in a copyright infringement area. Even for a non-profit to take the full work is pushing the envelope. Better yet is to be safe and quote a section and link back to the full piece on the other website.
  3. The copyright owner may fight any supposed Fair Use so the best bet is to just be careful and not grab what is not yours.

Here is the rule we have our blog writers follow.

  • Never take more than a paragraph of content. Always wrap what  you take in a quote and then attribute or link back to the original work.
  • Never pass off, even mildly reworded as yours something that is not truly yours.

I have been successful before in taking down an entire website through the host for copyright infringement when people have taken my content. Don’t be fooled into thinking that content you find on the Web is simply yours for the taking. Everything is copyrighted whether you see a notice or not. Fair Use may be a slippery slope and it is by far better to create your own content or link to other content than to steal it.